Cancer…a very scary word and very scary prospect for everyone. Research has shown that what we eat and the choices we make can affect the incidence of cancer and can also help to alleviate the side effects associated with cancer treatments. Choosing wisely can have an enormous impact on our health.
As far as cancer prevention, research shows that obesity increases the risk of many different types of cancer. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) over 30. Additionally, there is a worse prognosis for obese patients after cancer diagnosis, so it important to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight status. Focus on eating in moderation and exercising regularly for optimal health.
Studies have shown that a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables contain beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants, which help fight cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, contain a compound called sulforphane, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Further, it is important to avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body, such as refined sugar and carbohydrates, and pesticides. Buying organic produce is important not only because it is grown without pesticides, but because those plants are more resilient and have been shown to contain phytonutrients. This is because they become stronger as they learn to protect themselves from the elements without the use of pesticides. Lastly, alcohol should be avoided since it has been shown to be a cancer risk. Food with ginger, garlic, turmeric and green tea all have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for cancer prevention.
Dealing with cancer can be a debilitating ordeal. There are many short term and long term side effects from cancer treatment. For example, short term there may be nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, whereas long term symptoms include fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and memory issues. Others may develop other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, due to treatments. Insomnia is also a common side effect, which may caused by medications, stress or anxiety. Lack of sleep may affect mood and can lead to depression, which can then cause anxiety and create a cycle. Supplements that help alleviate insomnia and increase relaxation and decrease stress are melatonin, L-theanine, magnesium, magnolia, lipoic acid, and Panax ginseng.
Mind body approaches have also been shown to alleviate many of the side effects of cancer treatment and decrease stress. These include acupuncture, yoga, T’ai Chi, guided imagery, hypnosis, and mindfulness. Exercise is a great tool for stress release and weight loss, and studies have shown that physical activity is associated with a decreased incidence of certain cancers. Lastly, supplements like glutathione, creatine, CoQ10 and creatine have been shown to optimize our mitochondria, which create energy and which may have been damaged during treatment.
Diet and lifestyle factors are very important for both disease prevention and recurrence. There is a lot of truth to the saying, “you are what you eat,” and it is important to be mindful of what we put into our bodies and how we respond to our daily lives. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and find ways to decrease stress.This will help keep you as healthy as possible.